Question: Though the market is bad I have decided to buy a property, but I am anxious about placing my money with lawyers.
© Malcolm Willett (www.willett-ink.co.uk)
I realise that I will have to give my deposit to my solicitor at some stage and will also have to hand over money to complete the purchase.
I am concerned that the solicitor could go bust or the lawyer’s bank could suddenly collapse. How can I be sure that my solicitor is reputable and that my money remains absolutely safe?
Answer: I expect that this is a concern of many at the moment. Solicitors do hold many millions of pounds of clients’ deposits and the amount could be as much as £3 billion.
Under the terms of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) small firms and private individuals are protected up to a limit of £50,000 if the bank collapses.
The FSCS has confirmed that as long as solicitors inform their bank that they are depositing money from multiple clients into a single account, each client would benefit from the maximum protection of £50,000.
It is advisable to choose a law firm that is Lexcel accredited. Lexcel is the Law Society’s practice management standard. To obtain Lexcel accreditation a law firm must undergo rigorous independent assessment each year to ensure they meet the required standards of excellence in case management, risk management and client care.
You may like to look at the Law Society website under the Find a Solicitor section. The entries on this website will show whether the law firm has Lexcel accreditation and Solicitors Regulation Authority accreditation. Do remember that it may be possible to sue a solicitor if the solicitor is negligent in choosing a particular bank.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email email@example.com. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.